The Cast Of Iron Claw Versus The Real Life Wrestlers

Moviegoers will get a real taste of the highs and lows of the professional wrestling industry later this year, with "The Iron Claw" set to tell the tragic story of the Von Erich family. Starring high-profile Hollywood megastar Zac Efron in the role of Kevin Von Erich, the A24 production is slated for a December 22 release after being in the works for a number of years. Based on the legendary family in the 1980s, images began to surface earlier in 2023 of the likes of Efron and co-star Jeremy Allen White on the set of the film, with the former teenage heartthrob sporting a new physique and hairstyle. 

Of course, the big question is, how well do the actors resemble their real-life counterparts? In addition to the Von Erichs, the likes of Ric Flair and Harley Race are also set to be depicted at different stages of "The Iron Claw," while some familiar faces to wrestling fans will also be involved in their debut feature acting roles. With that in mind, let's take a look at the cast and see how they compare to the wrestlers they'll be portraying.

Zac Efron as Kevin Von Erich

Kevin Von Erich — the oldest of the Von Erich siblings and the only surviving member of the family — will be the centerpiece of the upcoming film. At one time, Kevin was a budding football prospect at North Texas State University, before giving up the gridiron for the squared circle and joining the family business. Kevin would go on to team with his brothers in an iconic feud against The Fabulous Freebirds, while also reaching singles success with feuds against Ric Flair and Chris Adams. With numerous championships in NWA and WCCW, "The Golden Warrior" was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009 with the rest of his family, before officially retiring from in-ring competition in 2017. 

The role of Kevin will be portrayed by one of the most famous actors of the past two decades, Zac Efron, who burst onto the scene in 2006, earning the lead role in Disney's incredibly popular "High School Musical" franchise as Troy Bolton — the captain of the basketball team and a promising young singer to match. As he grew from a teenager into a man, Efron starred in a number of dramas and comedies, including "The Lucky One," "Neighbors" and "Baywatch," with the latter putting him alongside WWE legend Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. 

In more recent years, Efron has starred as serial killer Ted Bundy in "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile," as well as working on a number of other lower-profile projects. Efron underwent an incredible physical transformation for his role in "The Iron Claw," adding on plenty of muscle mass and rocking a new hairstyle. 

After seeing the movie, Von Erich had this to say about Efron's performance: "I thought he did a great job. He really did. He should get the Academy Award... he's got my vote."

Jeremy Allen White as Kerry Von Erich

Perhaps the most successful member of the family, Kerry Von Erich was the only brother to claim the NWA World Heavyweight Title during his in-ring career, capturing the gold from Ric Flair in front of a raucous crowd at Texas Stadium in 1984. While his reign lasted less than a month, it was a clear highlight for the family, and it wouldn't be the last time Kerry would become a singles champion. 

In the early 1990s, "The Texas Tornado" joined the WWF and gained the Intercontinental Championship, before squaring off with the likes of The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels, as well as competing on the undercard at WWE WrestleMania 7. Kerry took his own life in 1993 at the age of 33, leaving behind two children from his previous marriage to Catherine Murray. 

Playing the part of the late Kerry will be Jeremy Allen White, who has carved out a tremendous career to date and, at just 32, is certainly an actor on the rise. His performance in the role of Carmen Berzatto in the Hulu comedy program "The Bear" earned him a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Television Series — Musical or Comedy earlier this year. The New York native has also held a recurring role as Lip Gallagher in the hit Showtime series "Shameless," and was part of the cast of "Movie 43" a decade ago. However, he will move into his first major role in a motion picture with "The Iron Claw"; White's casting was announced in September 2022.

Harris Dickinson as David Von Erich

The third-oldest of the Von Erich siblings, David fell agonizingly short of claiming the coveted NWA World Heavyweight Title during his time inside the ropes, despite numerous battles with the likes of Ric Flair and Harley Race over the years. Away from singles competition, "The Yellow Rose of Texas" would team with his brothers Kevin and Kerry in their iconic feud with The Fabulous Freebirds throughout the 1980s, as well as working in Missouri. 

David died in February 1984 during a tour of Japan at the age of 25, with many ex-wrestlers, including Flair and Mick Foley, claiming it came due to a drug overdose, despite the coroner's report indicating he suffered from acute enteritis. He is survived by his second wife, Patricia Matter. He had a daughter with his first wife, Candy McLeod, with the couple's only daughter dying just 13 weeks after her birth.

Stepping into his shoes for the film will be rising English actor Harris Dickinson, who at 27 years old has already had supporting roles in a number of feature films, including "Maleficient," "The King's Man," and "Where The Crawdads Sing." However, "The Iron Claw" will be his most prominent role to date. Dickinson first earned fame in 2017, winning the Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead in the drama film "Beach Rats," and is also slated to appear in Steve McQueen's upcoming film "Blitz".

Holt McCallany as Fritz Von Erich

A tough wrestler in his own right, the patriarch of the Von Erich clan was born in 1929 in Texas, and was trained by the legendary Stu Hart. Fritz (real name Jack Adkisson) competed for many decades, claiming the AWA World Heavyweight Title on one occasion, as well as becoming a long-term fixture for the NWA and WCCW both inside and outside the ring. 

His nickname during his career was "The Iron Claw" — the title of the upcoming movie — with Fritz becoming a major part of the Japanese professional wrestling scene, both as an active competitor and administrator. Fritz passed away in September 1997 after a battle with lung cancer, which ultimately spread to his brain. 

Taking on the role of Fritz will be Holt McCallany, who first earned acclaim for his part in the critically-lauded 1999 film "Fight Club" alongside Brad Pitt and Edward Norton. In more recent years, the 60-year-old has been cast in "Wrath Of Man" starring Jason Statham and "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back" with Tom Cruise, as well as holding a recurring role in the television program "Mindhunter". McCallany is also slated to appear in the next installment of the "Mission: Impossible" franchise, which is expected to be released in 2024. 

Maxwell Jacob Friedman as Lance Von Erich

A kayfabe member of the family, Lance (real name William Vaughn), was a Dallas-born wrestler who sporadically worked alongside the rest of the Von Erichs throughout the 1980s, billed as the son of Waldo, another performer with no biological relation to the Adkissons. While he never reached the heights of his "family" in the wrestling business, Lance was a successful real estate agent and bodybuilder outside of it.

The man who will portray Lance in the film needs no introduction to wrestling fans. Simply put, he's better than you, and you know it. The reigning and defending AEW World Champion, Maxwell Jacob Friedman, has become one of the top talents in the industry over the past four years, rising to superstardom in Tony Khan's company and etching his name into the history books with victories over the likes of Chris Jericho, CM Punk, and Bryan Danielson.

The 27-year-old makes his motion picture debut in "The Iron Claw," and has made no secret of his desire to move into show business once his time as an active competitor comes to an end. Furthermore, he has already dipped his toes into that world with a small role on "Impractical Jokers," which aired earlier this year.

Aaron Dean Eisenberg as Ric Flair

If you're reading this article, chances are you already know all about the legend of Ric Flair, who is regarded by many as the greatest wrestler of all time. After starting out in Jim Crockett Promotions and the NWA in the mid-1970s, "The Nature Boy" captured gold all across the globe, and is the recognized leader of World Title reigns with 16 throughout his career, tied with John Cena. 

Flair had countless battles with the Von Erichs, including dropping the NWA World Title to Kerry in March 1984. Since hanging up the boots and the robe, the 71-year-old has been inducted two times into the WWE Hall of Fame and, to this day, remains a pop culture icon that has transcended pro wrestling.

Playing the role of Flair will be a little-known star in Hollywood circles, Aaron Dean Eisenberg, who has built a niche reputation for his physical, vocal, and aesthetic versatility from his time working on television series including "The Deuce" and "Public Morals". While it will be the first major motion picture for the 37-year-old, "The Iron Claw" could present Eisenberg the opportunity to recreate some iconic moments from Flair's career, and give fans a performance to remember on the big screen. 

Kevin Anton as Harley Race

One of the most respected figures in pro wrestling history, both inside and outside the ring, Harley Race rose to prominence in the 1970s working in the NWA, where he won the promotion's top prize on seven occasions. Race had legendary tussles inside the squared circle with the likes of Terry Funk, Ric Flair, and Dusty Rhodes, cementing himself as a hard-nosed and tough-as-nails ring general. 

Throughout his time as an active competitor, Race had plenty of encounters with the Von Erich family, squaring off against Kerry, Kevin, and David in singles competition across the 1980s. The WWE Hall of Famer passed away in 2019 after a battle with lung cancer, leaving an indelible mark on the industry and inspiring a host of stars, including WWE's Chief Content Officer, Paul "Triple H" Levesque.

Stepping into the limelight for "The Iron Claw" in the role of Race will be method acting specialist Kevin Anton, who broke into show business via the New York theatre scene after studying at the famous Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute. The 36-year-old has worked on a number of film and television projects early in his career, including roles in "Gotham" and "Dead Ringers," but will have his first major spot in a motion picture production for the Von Erich biopic. Anton's look and demeanor will undoubtedly fit that of Race, who had an iconic presence during his heyday. 

Cazzey Louis Cereghino as Bruiser Brody

Standing at 6'8" and weighing 300 pounds, Bruiser Brody was one of the most frightening performers in the history of the wrestling industry. Throughout his time in the ring, Brody wrestled the Von Erichs on numerous occasions and was trained by the patriarch of the family, Fritz Von Erich, before stepping into the ring and earning his spot across the globe.

The beastly athlete worked across the United States, Japan, and abroad throughout the 1970s and 1980s, before allegedly being stabbed to death by fellow wrestler Jose Gonzalez following a show in Puerto Rico at the age of 42. Brody's hardcore brawling style paved the way for many performers that followed him, and he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2019.

In the upcoming film, Brody will be portrayed by a multi-faceted performer in Cazzey Louis Cereghino, who is perhaps most well-known for his commercial features, appearing in several Super Bowl advertisements. The 44-year-old Oregon native has also held roles on programs such as "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" and "Grimm," as well as sporadic cameos on the likes of "Shameless" and "Lethal Weapon". With an imposing stature and a large personality, Cereghino will be tasked with playing one of the most intimidating wrestlers of all time, but he has the perfect look to make it happen. 

Brady Pierce as Michael Hayes

A brash, loudmouth professional wrestler and musician, Michael P.S. Hayes is best known for his time as the leader of The Fabulous Freebirds — a major rival of the Von Erich family throughout the 1980s and one of the greatest factions of all time. Hayes and his partners Buddy Roberts, Terry Gordy, and Jimmy Garvin rose to prominence working in WCCW, NWA, and WCW, while he also won multiple singles titles during his in-ring career. 

Since retiring from active competition, the 64-year-old was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame alongside his Freebirds teammates in 2016, while also becoming a long-standing backstage producer and creative team member for the company from 1999 until the present day.

The role of Hayes will be played by fellow professional wrestler by trade, Brady Pierce, who has worked on the U.S. independent scene for the past decade, as well as competing on multiple episodes of "AEW Dark" in 2020. This will be the first acting role for the 32-year-old from South Carolina.

Chavo Guerrero Jr as The Sheik

Not to be confused with The Iron Shiek, the classic performer known as The Sheik began his wrestling journey in the 1940s, before earning accolades working for Vince McMahon's WWWF throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Shiek — real name Eddie Farhat — had iconic feuds with the likes of Bobo Brazil, as well as working against Fritz Von Erich and pioneering the hardcore style and acting as one of the great box office attractions of his time, before moving into a booker role after retiring from active competition. Farhat was the uncle of ECW legend Sabu, who carried on the family legacy throughout the 1990s and 2000s, with the Sheik passing away in 2003 at the age of 76.

The role of The Sheik will be portrayed by Chavo Guerrero, a member of another legendary wrestling family. The 53-year-old has carved out a lengthy career in the business over the past four decades, working for WCW in the mid and late-1990s, before signing with WWE and working for the sports entertainment juggernaut for a decade, winning championships as a singles wrestler and in tag team action alongside his late uncle, Eddie Guerrero. 

After moving on from the company in 2011, Guerrero has worked for numerous other promotions, including TNA and Lucha Underground, while also having a minor role in the "Young Rock" sitcom based on the life of Dwayne Johnson.

Ryan Nemeth as Gino Hernandez

A stalwart of the WCCW scene in Texas during the 1970s and 1980s, Gino Hernandez worked against the Von Erich family in both singles and tag team competition. However, in 1986, at the age of just 28, Hernandez passed away, with initial reports indicating it to be a homicide, before the final autopsy decided it was due to a cocaine overdose. 

Those close to Hernandez at the time have remained skeptical regarding the cause of death, with Michael Hayes claiming in a 2016 interview on "Legends With JBL" that foul play may have been involved. "I have a real hard time believing that Gino Hernandez OD'd ... he was most definitely hanging with the wrong crowd, and either ran his mouth too much, or knew too much, or all of the above," he said. 

In the minor role of Hernandez will be a man AEW fans will be very familiar with in Ryan Nemeth, who has worked as an enhancement talent and comedy wrestler with the company since 2021 after a brief stint with WWE in their developmental system. The younger brother of former world champion Dolph Ziggler, the self-proclaimed Hollywood Hunk has also spent time working as a comedian as well as wrestling while appearing frequently in the popular "Being The Elite" series on YouTube.